The $82 million National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus -- the country's official museum honoring military veterans -- will throw open its doors to the public Oct. 27, with retired Army general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell set to give the keynote address.
Museum officials announced Aug. 16 that the opening and dedication of the 53,000-square-foot museum on West Broad Street across from COSI Columbus -- in the area of the East Franklinton neighborhood known as the Scioto Peninsula -- is scheduled from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
The museum will stay open until 9 p.m. after the ceremony to let the public get its first look.
Construction started on the museum in 2015 after Franklin County demolished the aging Veterans Memorial that stood at the site. Spurred by the vision of John Glenn, the late astronaut and U.S. senator, and led by a donation of $40.6 million from local philanthropists Leslie and Abigail Wexner, the museum gained its official national designation from Congress earlier this year.
The goal of the museum is to tell the stories of America's veterans, rather than focus on one branch of service or any particular war. It is headed by retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, who was hired in June as president and CEO.
"I believe the institution will be a national treasure and will become a pilgrimage site for millions of veterans and their families," Ferriter said in a release. "I also believe that what lies within the walls of the museum is only the beginning of its impact."
Samir Bitar was hired as museum director in July.
He most recently was director of visitor experience at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where he developed and oversaw strategies to improve access and engagement for visitors. More details about the opening and dedication of the Columbus museum will be added as available at nationalvmm.org.
The National Veterans Memorial and Museum originally was slated to open this summer, but that date was pushed back a couple of times by its developer, the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. For months, however, its leaders have promised the facility would open before Veterans Day in November.
Guy Worley, president and CEO of the development corporation, said Aug. 16 he can't help but think back to the day in 2013 when Glenn first spoke of leading an effort to establish a true veterans memorial in Columbus.
"It is really gratifying to see that his vision is finally coming to fruition," Worley said. "The mission ... was to really understand what the stories of our veterans were and make sure they are told."